Unless you can rely family or a sitter for childcare when school isn’t in session, summer camp is a necessity, not an option, for most WNY families. Luckily, there are a lot of summer camps in Buffalo to choose from. When looking for a camp, I usually suggest families start by looking at options that are convenient for you like camps in your neighborhood or on your route to work. Then from there, I suggest picking a camp that will cater to your child’s needs and/or interests.
The type of summer camp your child needs will vary based on their own personality, maturity level and what they enjoy doing. For example, when my kids were younger, they didn’t enjoy some of the larger programs that integrated all age groups in one place. Looking back on it, I think it may have been a little overwhelming for a 5 year old to playing with third and fourth graders! Now, my kids are getting older and aging out of traditional camp programming but we still need something, so we’re shifting our focus to summer camps that cater to their interests.
In this post, I’ll share some ideas by age and interest to help you find the best summer camp in Buffalo for your kids!
Summer Camps in Buffalo by Age
Most camps cater to school age children. They group kids by grade and offer age appropriate activities from there. I wanted to highlight two age groups that might not fit in to some of the traditional summer camp programs and provide specific ideas on how to find the best summer camp for them.
The first is children 6 and under. These are kids that are either entering kindergarten at the start of the school year or moving from kindergarten to first grade. While they could technically go to any school age camp, some of the bigger programs may be a little intimidating or overwhelming to a child just getting used to the independence of grade school.
The second age group is the tween to teen range! I’ve defined this group as kids ages 10 to 13. These are kids who aren’t quite ready to stay home alone, but have matured beyond the programming of traditional camps.
You know your kids best. Some younger kids, tweens and teens may be fine going to a traditional camp with kids of all ages. But, if you have kids like mine that need to be engaged with something that they feel is age appropriate, here’s some summer camp ideas to help.
Best Summer Camps for 6 and Under
Rolly Pollies of WNY – With three locations throughout WNY, Rolly Pollies could be an option for many families. Their facilities and programming are geared toward kids 9 and under. So, it’s the perfect place for a younger child that likes to be active but needs a smaller group setting.
YMCA – The YMCA is a great camp option because they branches all over WNY making it a convenient option for a lot of families. Next, they have a group for kids as young 3 – entering Kindergarten which is perfect for much younger campers to get age appropriate activities.
Best Camps for Tween and Teens
Town Camps – Camps run by your town or local recreation department are usually a great option for older kids. They usually allow for more independent play and some of them allow you to choose how kids will spend their day whether it be doing sports, going swimming, taking field trips or doing craft/creative activities.
Camp Centerland by the JCC – Camp Centerland has programming for kids of all ages and would be a great fit for any age range, but I specifically listed it for older kids because they tend to be more difficult to engage. Camp Centerland has swimming, rock climbing, zip lines and all kinds of the things to keep older kids active and entertained all summer.
A new comer to the market in 2020 is The Warrior Factory Buffalo. I think this camp may end up being a good one for older kids that like to stay active. Their website notes that kids age 13 to 15 can inquire about opportunities to be a camp assistant for a reduced rate. Keep an eye on this one. Hopefully one of our followers will attend and be able to give us some insight!
Summer Camps by Interest
From performing arts to sports to animal themed camps there are a lot of summer camp options in Buffalo for kids with special interests. In the list below, we highlight some of the summer camps our readers have recommended or we’ve personally used!
Summer Camp for Performers
Both Academy of Theatre Arts and Theatre of Youth offer programming by the week which is a great way to break up the summer if you want to try out a few different camps. Plus, both camps do a great job of grouping students by age and ability.
Dance Studios and Gymnastics Centers – Many dance studios offer summer camps. A lot of them come up with weekly themes and allow students to register for a week at a time or the entire summer as well. The same is goes for the gymnastics studios!
Summer Camp for Kids that Love Sports and Physical Activities
Town Camps – Again a lot of towns and recreational departments offer sport specific programming as part of their summer camp schedule so check in your area for sports camps.
Christian Laettner Basketball Academy
Summer Camp for Creatives and Techies
Fashion Lab NY – Fashion Lab is a great program for kids with an interest in sewing and fashion. Their programming is usually geared towards kids 7 and older so it’s a great option for tweens and teens too.
CodeAbility of WNY and The Coder School – These are two relatively new options in the market and focus on teaching kids coding skills in a fun way. Both have programming for kids starting at age 7 but most of their classes are better for 10+ so this could also be an option for the tween/teen group.
Summer Camp for Animal Lovers
Sit n’ Stay Professional Pet Service – In 2019 they had a summer camp at their training facility where kids could bring their pets. As of 3/2/20, 2020 dates weren’t posted but check their site for updates.
Horseback Riding Camp – There are a few facilities throughout WNY that offer summer camp. If you have child interested in horseback riding, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you find a camp near by.
Summer Camp for Kids that Prefer Being Outside
Buffalo Yacht Club – Junior Sailing Program
Faith Based Summer Camps
Camp Hickory Hill – Overnight camp for kids and teens.
Is there a camp you love that should be in one of these categories? Contact me.
Looking for more camps? Check out our complete list of camps that lists both summer camps in Buffalo PLUS places that also offer vacation camps.